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Riviere, J. (1924). The Castration Complex in a Child. Int. J. Psycho-Anal., 5:467-468.

(1924). International Journal of Psycho-Analysis, 5:467-468

The Castration Complex in a Child

Joan Riviere

A patient who had had a few months' analysis wrote down for me the following conversation which she had with her little boy, aged three years and ten months. The child has an older brother and younger sister. (It will be seen that, though anxious to do the best thing, the mother's attitude was influenced by her own complexes.)

C. had just had his bath and was sitting on the chamber. He calls his penis his 'neenee'.

C.:

'I am going to break my neenee right off.'

Mother:

'I shouldn't do that; that's what makes you a little boy.'

C.:

'I will get a knife and cut it right off.'

Mother:

'Don't do that, because that's the difference between a boy and girl. Mary (the baby sister) hasn't got one.'

C.:

'Have you got a neenee?'

Mother:

'No, because I am a girl, a lady.'

C.:

'Has Tony (the elder brother)?'

Mother:

'Yes.'

C.:

'Has Daddy?'

Mother:

'Yes.'

C.:

'How big?'

The mother showed him about the size.

C.:

'No, no! It's bigger than that! Daddy's neenee is as big as that.' He pointed to a cupboard in which shoes were kept.

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